There is more opportunity to earn customers today than ever before.

While it may seem that the barrage of new technologies and platforms dooms brands to be left behind, the forward-thinking marketer realizes the unique opportunity each has to offer.

When C-level executives approve which channel, platform, and medium to spend their finite budgets on, they’re going to turn to activities that cost the least amount of money and offer the biggest return.

Looking for an affordable marketing strategy that not only adds value, but also reduce costs? Organic search traffic achieved through search engine optimization (SEO) is the obvious choice.

The problem is, SEO is not well understood.

Why do you, as a marketer, need SEO and how can you convince your CMO to adopt it?

Why SEO?

It’s no secret that today’s consumer is savvier than ever. Long gone are the days when being the cheapest option or having the most memorable television advertisement was enough to win the sale.

Today’s consumer is different. They research.

What do they research exactly?


There are an estimated 5 billion Google searches every day, and that number has only been climbing. Take a look at the number of search queries Google has processed annually since the year 2000.

Pair that with the fact that 85% of people research on Google before making a purchase.

When the research-minded consumer of today looks for information about a solution you offer, what will they find?  

To capture your share of the 5+ billion Google searches that happen every day, your business needs visibility in the search engines. As more of your current and potential customers turn to search engines like Google to solve their problems, SEO is more important than ever.

Source: Consumer Survey Reveals the Efficacy of Inbound vs. Outbound (

Proving the Value of SEO

Since C-level executives are interested in spending the least amount of money for the biggest return, you’ll need to make the case that SEO is a profit center, not a cost center. To do that, you’ll need to equip yourself with some strong arguments.

I recommend the following.  

1. You don’t have to pay for the traffic you earn

Organic search is a desirable growth option because, once earned, you don’t have to pay for the traffic you get. Contrast that with paid advertising like Google PPC where you have to pay for every click.

While the SEO work isn’t free, the clicks are.

Investing in SEO means earned placement in search engines that can keep earning your website traffic for months or even years to come. Over time, this reduces your customer acquisition costs. Your ability to outrank the competition is a competitive asset, not a one-time purchase.

That’s not to say we don’t believe in paid channels. Not at all! Because organic traffic is earned, it takes time. If you don’t have time, supplement with paid advertising because it’s instant. Keep in mind, however, that only 2.8% of searchers click on ads compared to 62.2% of clicks going to organic results.

PPC and SEO also work well together. Various studies suggest that, due to the halo effect, the click-through rate on both organic results and paid ads is higher when both appear on page 1 of the search results.

2. You save money by exchanging paid clicks for free clicks

Rank organically on page 1 for a particular keyword and see how many clicks it generates. Now multiply those clicks by the average cost per click (CPC) of that same keyword in Google Ads.

You just saved that much money.

Although it can boost CTR to have both an organic and a paid result on page 1 of Google, you may be able to save money by letting your organic result carry you.

Comparing your organic clicks to the cost of those paid clicks is an easy way to see how much money you would have had to pay for that traffic if you got it via PPC.

With SEO, you got it for free. That’s a win in my book.

3. You control the narrative

Are your target customers learning about you only once they’re ready to buy? Or have they learned from you during their research and evaluation stages?

Creating content that ranks well in search engines allows you to get your message in front of your target audience at any time of day, any day of the week, and regardless of whether they’re asking a question or trying to make a purchase.

Earn exposure at all these phases of the buying cycle, and you control the narrative.

By investing in SEO, you’re filling your funnel at the top, middle, and bottom to increase your chances of winning over your ideal customers.

4. Consumers will perceive your brand as the authority

What does it say to a consumer when Google chooses your brand as the answer to their questions?

Ranking organically in search engines for topics related to the product or service you offer is a sign of trust. If Google trusts them as an authority on this topic, so can I.

Consumers find what they’re looking for by searching a series of questions related to the problem they’re trying to solve.

How to take pictures with the blurred background

What is the best camera with aperture control

Where to buy Nikon DSLR

Through SEO, you can be their answer to all of them, maximizing brand exposure and topical authority.  

Executives want to see the ROI

At the end of the day, it’s about adding value and reducing costs. Anything else will be seen as a cost center, not a profit center.

You need to connect SEO to revenue.

Attribution is critical

If you want to prove the value of SEO in real dollars, you need to make sure you have an attribution model in place. This will allow you to see exactly which channel is working and which isn’t so you can adjust as necessary.

While SEO can directly result in a conversion, it can also assist conversions. Consider attribution models that look at the entire conversion path. This will give you a more holistic understanding of SEO’s impact on your customer acquisition.

Establish S.M.A.R.T. KPIs

If you’re going to prove the value of SEO to the C-suite, you’re going to need to back it up with data. You can do this by establishing specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound goals and then measuring your progress against those performance indicators.  

You’ll want to be able to provide concrete data that answers:

  • How many contact forms did the organic channel generate?
  • How many purchases did the organic channel generate?
  • How many phone calls did the organic channel generate?
  • How many sales did the organic channel generate?
  • What’s the estimated value of those sales?

SEO: Measurable, effective, & lucrative

SEO is not only a revenue-saving initiative, but it’s also a revenue-driving initiative. Once your leadership team understands all the ways it can contribute to your organization’s bottom line, they’ll want to adopt it as soon as possible.

About the Author: Sarah Bird serves as the CEO of Moz, the world leader in Search Engine Optimization software. Prior to Moz, Sarah practiced law and traveled the world. Sarah regularly speaks about entrepreneurship, business models, search marketing, women in tech, and fostering an inspiring company culture. She also serves on the boards of Sitrion, a private company, and Copper Canyon Press, a nonprofit publisher dedicated to poetry.